Dr. Michael Hayden, a Xenon founder and Chief Scientific Officer, has received the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for leadership in medical science in Canada.
The Wightman Award is another major honour for Dr. Hayden, having previously been awarded the Order of Canada and Order of British Columbia, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Health Researcher of the Year Award, LifeSciences BC's Genome BC Award for Scientific Excellence and the Prix Galien Canada.
"I am thrilled to receive this award," said Dr. Hayden during the awards ceremony this morning in Toronto. "As a physician scientist, to whom chance has given unusual opportunities, I am deeply aware of the degree to which my own success today is built upon the work, cooperation and struggles of others."
"This is a wonderful moment for Michael and the Xenon team is extremely proud of Michael's profound achievements. His scientific and entrepreneurial talents and the commitment he has made to finding novel cures for difficult to treat diseases have made us a better company and Canada a better scientific community," said Dr. Simon Pimstone, a co-founder and President and Chief Executive Officer at Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Vancouver, Canada.
The Gairdner Awards are a highly respected international prize. Ten of the last 24 Nobel Prizes in medicine or physiology have been awarded to past Gairdner recipients. Prior to Dr. Hayden winning the Wightman Award, the last British Columbian to receive a Gairdner Award was the late UBC Chemistry Prof. Michael Smith, who won the 1986 Gairdner Foundation International Award and went on to win the 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
"I have known Michael and seen him in action for approximately twenty years and can think of no one in Canada more deserving," said Mr. Michael Tarnow, the Chairman of Xenon's Board of Directors and a past President and CEO of Merck Frosst Canada. "Michael's research is innovative, meaningful and far reaching and is touching lives and providing hope for patients and family members literally all over the world. Michael is a most deserving recipient."
An author of more than 600 publications, Dr. Hayden is the most cited author on Huntington's disease in the world. He is well known for having developed a predictive genetic test for Huntington's disease, which was the first ever predictive test for any genetic disorder. With Xenon he has also identified genes associated with rare disorders such as Tangier disease, juvenile hemochromatosis and congenital insensitivity to pain. These discoveries are leading to novel approaches for treating common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, anemia and pain.